Go beyond consent to mutuality: your life is best when other people are happy because of you
Mapenzi Ni Kama Kikohozi = Love is like a cough. This is a slogan on a public transport vehicle in Nairobi. Our youth suggested it means…
1) You cannot hide; 2) It can kill you; 3) it’s contagious.
However, the interpretation is challenged by our desire that a “cough” will go away! And we don’t want LOVE to go away! So, sometimes the slogans we read reveal the suffering of others, and this one challenges us: don’t love others like a cough.
Perhaps this slogan could read: Mahaba Ni Kama Kikohozi = Romance is like a cough. Because we all know that romance fades after 6 months, or 12 months if you are lucky!
As the youth discussed this online, one asked: “How do you ensure that after romance dies, you remain in love?” My response was: “Do actions that build up trust and show appreciation for the other person. Trust needs communication, sharing and transparency. eg. let your wife have the PIN to your phone and access to your credit card/ bank account statements.”
In the Gospel, Jesus warns people: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Like the slogan above, thieves come in various disguises.
How many false messages do we receive from social media, and even from our work-mates, our friends, etc. All of whom are manipulated by the social media on TV and online.
We live in a world obsessed by the desire for privacy, which can lead to poor choices that later hurt, or destroy, our relationships with others as we hide selfish actions. As a Religious leader said: if what you are doing cannot be done in Community, then it’s not a “good” thing.
We live in a world promoting personal happiness, rather than promoting concern for others; the truth is: our happiness comes from the happiness we cause in others. But the main advertising message today is: make yourself happy (buy this); but more and more are not happy.
Around the world, there is a pandemic that is slowly being realised in some countries: the issue of consent in relationships. Daniel Principe on SBS News in Australia, developed a pornography addiction from the age of 11. By the age of 22 he realised his core values were being changed by the porn he watched: his way of looking at women. https://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight/article/porn-taught-me-to-disrespect-women-from-when-i-was-11-now-i-try-to-tell-kids-whats-real/vbk4p7ggx?
Daniel now does public speaking at schools encouraging everyone to go beyond simply asking for consent, to develop a mentality of mutuality: what will make the other person happy.
The Oblate youth in Nairobi shared another way the Good Shepherd Gospel speaks to them: all the youth need money. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to get it. Unfortunately, many are caught up in the use of corruption or cheating because it’s very prevalent in our Kenyan society, especially by people who provide essential services.
Sadly, many youths suffer corruption by the Police who interact with them. It is difficult to listen to the Gospel message when all around them, the older people are “getting ahead” by forcing people to give extra money to receive the services they need.
Last week we heard how criminal drug gangs are getting bigger and more powerful in many countries: at what point will our countries be finished by crime and corruption?
There is an urgent need, by older people, to listen to the invitation of Christ in the Gospel, to look for true happiness (Heaven), by acting as Christ would act. To stop extorting money from poor people in order to provide services. And to speak up against injustices.
“What must we do, brothers?” St Peter encourages us by saying that God is ready to forgive our past behaviours and help us start again: the people he was speaking to were the same people calling for Jesus to be crucified a few weeks earlier.
Who do we crucify at work? At home? Another youth member shared the trouble people get into by taking loans to buy luxury items, like huge TV’s or flash cars, to increase their status in the eyes of others. They usually go to shylarks who give loans with high interest rates.
This is where people have looked for happiness in the wrong place: in material wealth. Whereas, Christ, the true gate to happiness, encourages us to look for happiness in community: by helping each other: over time, the rewards will be great, both mentally and materially.
If we want love (and happiness), to be more than a “cough,” let us be praising others, be transparent and communicate with those who deserve it: our family members. Happy Easter!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI